Russia dominated the game throughout – the shot count finished 54-16 in favour of the home team – but Slovak goalie Matej Tomek was in superb form and continually frustrated the home offence. Tomek, who plays for the University of Nebraska in Omaha, kept Russia at bay until the 36th minute when a solo effort from Maxim Dzhioshvili opened the scoring. That lead was shortlived as Sebastian Smida tied the score 90 seconds later.
However, Russia got the winner at the start of the third when Dmitry Kolgotin exploded out from behind the net to beat Tomek.
“Everyone on the ice worked so hard to get that goal,” said Kolgotin, one of 10 players on the roster registered with the Smolensk Academy of Physical Education. “I can’t say I did anything special, it felt like it was my first shot in the game. I just saw a gap and went for it. It’s true what they say, if you go to the net, things happen for you.
“Scoring the winner is a great feeling, especially since this is the first time I’ve been called up to any national team.”
Russia’s success ensured a sweep of hockey gold at this tournament after the women won gold yesterday. It also makes its five golds from six Universiade tournaments for the men. You have to go back to Slovakia’s 2001 triumph to find the last time the Red Machine missed out on a medal at this student event.
This year’s roster was a strong one, with eight of the roster gaining at least some KHL experience in the current season. The remainder were drawn from the VHL, Russia’s second-tier pro league; some of them, like Metallurg Novokuznetsk forward Yegor Morozov, boasted extensive KHL experience.
Slovakia, which medalled for the first time since a bronze in 2009, also boasted an experienced KHLer: defenceman Patrik Bacik, 24, spent the bulk of the season with Slovan Bratislava and has made three international appearances for his country.
Russia’s head coach Vladislav Khromykh, who was also behind the bench two years ago when his team triumphed in Kazkahstan, paid tribute to Slovakia’s performance.
“Slovakia is a team with character and great spirit, they played well on defence and their goalie was great,” he told the Russian Hockey Federation website. “We wanted to play the right way and, as far as possible, stay out of the box because we’d seen how dangerous the Slovak power play could be. And we managed to do that. The tournament was at a very high level, everything was great on and off the ice. I’m thrilled that we’ve managed to win the Universiade on home ice.”
The two nations dominated Group A of the competition in Central Siberia, separated only by that overtime win for Russia at the start of the contest. In the semi-finals, Russia won a tempestuous game against Canada 5-1 while Slovakia blanked Kazakhstan in a 4-0 success.
The bronze medal went to Canada after a 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan. Goalie Sebastien Auger stopped 39 shots, while second-period goals from Aidan Wallace and Daniel Del Paggio, scored just 42 seconds apart, swung the game in the Canadians’ favour. Stephen Harper’s empty net effort secured a third successive bronze for his country in this tournament, Canada has collected a medal in the last seven Universiade events. The victory in the bronze medal game avenged Kazakhstan’s 4-3 win when the teams met in the group stage. Kazakhstan topped Group B but was left without a medal after taking silver at the last three games.
The Kazakhs dominated the individual honours. Valery Gurin of Nomad Astana was the leading scoring with 17 (5+12) points; Anton Nekryach was second on 14 (9+5). Slovakia’s Daniel Rzavsky completed the top three, tying with Canada’s Harper and Russia’s Denis Orlovich-Grudkov at 10 points.